Personal statements should be indelibly linked to you as an individual and an academic and, well, personal. We have therefore compiled personal statement advice from the Elite IB office team, who studied a range of course from Engineering to Politics, via Law, Business, and Natural Sciences, and suggest you read through the below before applying the relevant advice to your own personal statement.
If you only take in one piece of advice, however, begin your personal statement in good time to allow for multiple edits- it can be excruciating writing about your achievements and how great you are, so be sure to allow for lots of time to get used to writing in this way and to edit out the inevitable parts which later make you put your hands over your eyes in embarrassment!
Andres and Jeehyun are current University of Warwick undergraduates who have joined Elite IB as summer interns. As high achieving IB graduates, they are brimming with knowledge and tips that will help you through your IB journey. Lets see what they recommend…
Andres – Personal statements are a crucial part of the UCAS application, so it is vital to spend a good deal of time and effort on yours. The most important – and probably the most obvious – thing to do is to start drafting your personal statement well in advance. You will need to draft it a few times, so you want to give yourself the time to improve your writing until it reaches perfection. The more drafts you do, the better, since you will not get it right the first couple of times.
Regarding the writing itself, never include clichés – they are cheesy, overused and will not make you stand out to universities. Be honest about what motivates you and why you want to take your course; it will make your application more original and credible. Additionally, make sure that everything you include will help to show you are qualified for and interested in taking the course. Do not talk about an after-school activity without mentioning how it has contributed to your development. If you are unsure about what your prospective universities are looking for, search your course on their websites, where they will certainly have a section regarding what they look for in prospective students.
Finally, it is crucial that you proofread your work for spelling and grammatical errors. A poorly-written personal statement looks unprofessional and can be the end of your application, especially for top universities, so make sure your work is perfectly written.
Jee – Personal statements can seem like a nightmare when you don’t even know how to start. But remember the basics: universities are given hundreds of applications with similar grades, so they’ll use your personal statement to see whether they actually need you as an individual.
First thing to do then is to look directly into their websites and see if they offer any guidance on what they are looking for in prospective students. Make note of particular characteristics and include them, backing them up with specific activities you’ve done. Make sure to explain how your experiences relate to the specific course as well.
This won’t be a problem unless you’re applying to two or more courses, where it gets difficult to incorporate interests for all of them into a single personal statement. Try your best to balance them out by generalising statements so they fit to all of your courses. Be careful not to directly state any course name as the admissions team of another course may realise you are applying to several, which may show shallow interest in their course.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough extracurriculars to impress them. Use your hobbies to show how you’ve dedicated your own time in the field. Read books or news articles in the relevant area, or do your own research. Be careful not to focus too much on the content though, and focus on your own thoughts and opinions instead. Also, you can sell what you’ve done for IB! Mention your higher level choices and how they helped you develop insight into the area, as well as activities done for CAS which may be relevant.
Most importantly, keep your personal statement honest. Research a bit to figure out what everyone else is writing. Try to make yours unique so that it stands out and they remember you. After all, you know you want to get in. All you need to do is tell them why they will want you in.